Urban Meyer: 'Take it and throw it to the side. That's called the human spirit'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Friday May 19, 2017


With the game on the line, Urban Meyer doesn't want the numbers. He wants to know about what he calls “the human spirit.”

Speaking at a coaches clinic recently, Meyer recounted the 2014 game against Michigan and a decision to go for 4th-and-1 in the 4th quarter at Michigan’s 44-yard line, and the conversation he had with his team. 247Sports recently posted video.

“It’s good to have statistical analysis. You know what I believe in? I believe in the human spirit,” Meyer told the group. “I believe in who’s got their freaking heart like that (big). Who is so well-coached up front on that offensive line that when it’s 4th-and-this-much against that Team Up North, I don’t have to make a decision. Who makes the decision? I call timeout. In 2014, national championship year, our third-string quarterback is in the game. J.T. goes down. …

“Fast forward, fourth quarter. It’s 4th down and (short). Analytics say you punt the ball, play good defense and end it. I took analytics out the window and called timeout, called the offensive line, coach right next to me. Had Zeke Elliott — he wasn’t the same guy yet. I grabbed the guys, got them real close to my face. I won’t share the language we used. But I said, ‘Do you want to go for it?’

Six faces came into my face, ‘Go for the first down! We’ll get the first down!’ Here’s what you do with your analytics: Take it, throw it to the side. That’s called the human spirit. That’s called a well-trained group. That’s called a group that owned it. … You’re going to go for the first down, because they made the decision. They didn’t make it at that moment. When did they make it? Throughout that whole journey because they owned their program. They owned their team. They owned their unit.”

On that 4th down, Elliott ripped off a 44-yard touchdown run, and OSU put the game away.

Meyer is 5-0 against Michigan, with three single-digit wins. OSU was in a similar position this past year. Down by 3 in overtime, facing 4th-and-1 at the 16-yard line, Meyer ran Barrett and got the first down by the smallest of margins. The Buckeyes won the game on the next play.

“My AD at Florida actually used to always tell me, he said, 'If you can't get that far, you're not a championship team,'” Meyer said in November. “We used to talk about that all the time, and I agree with him. So that actually crossed my mind. If you can't get that, we're not a championship team anyway.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.